Madrid is the capital of one of the most dynamic countries in Europe. Madrid is the city that never sleeps, full of culture and spirit. Spain as a country has a very unique cultural identity. The Spanish culture is complex, diverse, and quite regional. Each region of Spain like Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Provinces, and Andalucia has it's own distinct history, dialect, culture, and identity.
The complex history of Spain helped create these unique regions and identities. Rome had control over the Iberian peninsula for approximately 600 years and left a deep mark on the region. Roman ruins can be seen throughout Spain. Afterwards the Visigoths added their influence to the Spanish region and values. The monumental arrival of the Moors in the 8th century and their stay for nearly 800 years had profound influence on Spanish culture and architecture. The Moors fell to the Christians in 1492 and the 16th century came to be referred to as Spain's golden age of discovery and power. The decline of this age in the 18th and 19th century and the civil war in the 1930s further shaped the Spanish identity. Spain is now divided into 17 autonomous regions each with its own special character and personality ripe for exploration by AU students.
You will find that Spaniards in Madrid love to take advantage of their public spaces; parks, avenues, and plazas are frequently bustling with people congregating, enjoying each others company, and truly living within their city. Social life is a priority, though you will find that much of the socializing is done in public spaces rather than in private homes.
Madrid never lacks for things to keep students busy. From world class museums and parks to countless neighborhoods in Madrid and close cities for exciting day trips, there are numerous things to do during free time in Madrid.